Wednesday, July 6, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup July 6: HB530:PA Legislature Wants Taxpayers to Pay for Unlimited Charter Expansion

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup July 6, 2016:
HB530:PA Legislature Wants Taxpayers to Pay for Unlimited Charter Expansion

“Has Pennsylvania's charter experience been an unqualified success? Despite some excellent charters, not enough data exist to say with any certainty how charter students have fared in the long run compared with their public-school counterparts. Overall, charter performance compared with traditional public schools is only marginally better, and often worse.  But these are clouds the Legislature refuses to see, or care about. Eighteen years ago, charters were created in the state, and there's been virtually no meaningful reform to date. HB 530 is another faux reform bill that won't help - and could actually hurt.”
DN editorial: Proposed charter reform - cloudy with a chance of crisis
Philly Daily News Editorial Updated: JULY 6, 2016 — 3:00 AM EDT
THE FORECAST for education in Pennsylvania is never sunny, but lately a number of troubling storm systems have appeared on the horizon. And, as usual, Philadelphia is set to bear the brunt.  Last month, for example, a survey by the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials found that 60 percent of the state's school districts plan to raise property taxes. These hikes reflect increasing costs in education, particularly pensions and health care, as well as costs for special education, health care and charter school contributions, all of which represent $600 million in new costs.

Steven Singer: The Pennsylvania Legislature Wants Taxpayers to Pay for Unlimited Charter Expansion
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch July 5, 2016 //
The arrogance of the charter industry is getting to be boundless. They want the authority to expand without limits, with no accountability or transparency.  If the Democrats don’t stand up to this brazen effort to privatize public education, who will?  Steven Singer writes here about the latest raid on the public treasury in Pennsylvania.

“HB530 proposes major revisions regarding the Charter School Law; however, it does not provide any significant funding reforms or major savings to school districts or provide significant accountability to taxpayers for payments made to charter school entities.”

$31.5 billion question: How will Pa. pay for budget?
Inquirer by Angela Couloumbis, HARRISBURG BUREAU Updated: JULY 5, 2016 6:51 PM EDT
HARRISBURG - After failing to enact a state budget on time, Gov. Wolf and the Republican-controlled legislature now find themselves working against a new deadline.  The two sides have until midnight Monday to reach consensus on how to pay for the $31.5 billion spending plan that lawmakers sent Wolf last week.  If there is no agreement by then, the Democratic governor will have to decide whether to partially - or fully - veto the proposal. Wolf has signaled that he cannot sign a budget without having secured a deal on how to finance it.  The new fiscal year began July 1, and all sides are trying to avoid last year's bruising budget stalemate that held up critical funds to public schools and non-profit organizations offering social services.  Although budget negotiators resumed talks behind closed doors Tuesday, they did not resolve their differences, which center on whether to raise certain taxes.  "I'm always encouraged by discussions, but we have a long way to go," said Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre). "We're still working at it."

Budget bill passed, money to fund it still in limbo
ABC27 By Dennis Owens Published: July 5, 2016, 5:36 pm  Updated: July 5, 2016, 6:52 pm
HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Tourists were easily spotted at the Capitol Tuesday as they took tours and pointed at the gilded artwork adorning the inside of the dome.  Legislative leaders were much harder to find, but they were there and spent much of the day shuttling from one office to another. Budget meetings and talks are happening across the complex and behind closed doors.  “There’s no question there’s pressure to get this done, yes,” said Steve Miskin, the House Republican spokesman.  The clock is ticking. Last week, lawmakers sent a budget bill to Governor Tom Wolf’s desk. They agreed to spend $31.6 billion. They even agreed where to spend it. But they’re struggling to agree on exactly where the $31.6 billion is coming from.  “We’re about, depending on who you talk to, about a billion dollars difference on what we have to spend and the revenues that we need,” said Jennifer Kocher, the Senate GOP spokeswoman.

Pennsylvania has a spending plan, but how to fund it?
WHYY Newsworks BY DAVE HELLER JULY 5, 2016 play audio runtime: 10:53
Five days after a budget was due, lawmakers in Harrisburg continue trying to craft a fiscal funding plan for Pennsylvania. Determined to avoid the months-long stalemate that stymied last year's effort, both chambers of the Legislature and Gov. Tom Wolf have arrived at a spending plan.  "Now we've got to figure out how to pay for it, which is always the trick," said state Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia. "And that's the negotiation that's going on right now."  Hughes, the Democratic chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, gave an update and offered a look ahead to NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller. Click on the audio link above to hear their conversation.

Budget talks enter new week with no news of a deal on taxes
Inquirer by MARC LEVY, The Associated Press Updated: JULY 5, 2016 — 1:31 PM EDT
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Negotiators reported no agreement on financing state government's $31.5 billion budget plan as top lawmakers met privately and apparently fruitlessly Tuesday in the quiet state Capitol five days into the state's fiscal year.  The state House of Representatives and Senate weren't scheduled to resume session Tuesday as a divide over election-year tax increases dragged out negotiations between Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled Legislature.  House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, joined a brief meeting with other top lawmakers and said he could not predict whether an agreement was imminent, or even possible, this week.

House deadlocked on #PaBudget funding plan, report: Tuesday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on July 05, 2016 at 7:15 AM, updated July 05, 2016 at 7:36 AM
After a week of bipartisan budget hosannas in the state House, Republican and Democrats in the lower chamber have hit a wall on how to pay for the $31.6 billion spending plan.  As our friends at NewsWorks/WHYY-FM report this Tuesday morning, majority Republicans and Democrats are about $150 million apart on new revenue for the fiscal year that started on July 1.  House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, tells the station that his caucus has put together about $1.2 billion in new funding - without any broad-based tax increases.  "I think all five parties need to get on board,"Reed told the station. "We're the only ones to actually put revenue on the table — $1.2 billion worth of revenue out of the House Republican Caucus."

Additional options put on revenue negotiating table
The PLS Reporter July 6, 2016 (paywall)
After a late-week scrap over which sources of revenue to fill the roughly $1.3 billion budget hole have legislative support, caucus leaders returned from the July Fourth holiday Tuesday to once again sit down at the negotiating table, this time bringing additional options for how to fully fund the $31.6 billion spending plan sent to the governor’s desk last week.  The leading proposal to emerge from a meeting of the four legislative caucus leaders Tuesday morning was one to include a $300 million loan from the State Workers’ Insurance Fund (SWIF) to replace revenue that could’ve been raised from the reimplementation of a now-controversial Gross Receipts Tax on natural gas.
Read the full story from The PLS Reporter HERE.

Editorial: Pa. Legislature needs to work quickly to fund budget plan
Lancaster Online Editorial The LNP Editorial Board July 6, 2016
THE ISSUE: Republicans and Democrats in the Pennsylvania Legislature have reached an impasse on the budget for fiscal year 2016-17. Last week, lawmakers passed a spending plan, but they are now at odds over how to pay for it. Tax increases are the biggest stumbling block, though there is also disagreement on exactly how much money it will take to balance the budget.  You’ve spotted your dream house. It has everything you want — hardwood floors, granite counters, garden, swimming pool, a view of the lake. But it’s way over your budget. The conversation with your real estate agent would go something like this.
“The asking price is $1.5 million.”  “I have $10,000 for a down payment.”
“You'll need about $300,000.”  “I don’t have it, but I really want the house.”
“But you can’t afford it.”  “I want it anyway.”
There’s a difference between a willingness to spend and the ability to spend, the conundrum in which Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled Legislature now finds itself. We were really hoping we wouldn’t be here July 6. But we are.  Last week, the state House and Senate finalized a $31.5 billion spending plan and sent it to Gov. Tom Wolf. Well done. Excellent progress. Bipartisan cooperation and all that. The plan even arrived before the June 30 deadline. Wow! Of course — and here’s the tricky bit — the key part of spending money is actually having the money, or, at the very least, knowing from where it will come so you can then spend it.

School budgets see increase from state
York Dispatch by  Alyssa Jackson, 505-5438/@AlyssaJacksonYD10:44 p.m. EDT July 5, 2016
·         Most schools will see an increase in what they thought they would get in education funding from the state.
·         This is the first year that the new fair funding formula was used.
·         The state budget will not be signed by Gov. Wolf until a revenue plan is in place.
York County school districts will see an overall increase in education funding if the current state budget is signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf.  The Legislature still needs to pass the revenue package of the state budget, which will fund the budget plan that the Pennsylvania House sent to Wolf on Thursday night. Lawmakers were still deliberating Tuesday afternoon. Wolf has said that he will sign the state budget into law once a "sustainable" revenue package is presented.  The current state budget calls for a $200 million increase in basic education funding, bringing the total number just under $6 billion for Pennsylvania schools. This is also the first year that the new fair funding formula, signed into law by Wolf in June, was used to calculate how much school districts would receive.  According to numbers provided by the House, school districts in York County will see an increase in the funding from the state this year, and many are seeing an increase in what they budgeted from the state in their 2016-17 school budgets, many of which can be found online on the school districts' web pages.

 “Use of a portion of the fund balance enabled the budget to have a $4.3 million, or 4.5 percent, increase, yet stay under the index. The district had to manage all contracted expenses and particularly deal with the $1.2 million increase in retirement costs.”
Garnet Valley raises taxes in $101M budget
Delco Times By Susan Serbin, Times Correspondent POSTED: 07/05/16, 10:11 PM EDT
The Garnet Valley School District’s 2016-17 final budget inched over the $100 million mark. Even so, the administrative team held the tax increase to 2.3 percent, just under the 2.4 percent index, or allowable rate increase set by the state. The school board passed the budget of $100.7 million at the June meeting, with no public comment at the legislative session.  “When we presented the preliminary budget in January, we had calculated a 3.1 percent increase, and elected to apply for exceptions to give us some room,” said board member Greg Chestnut, of the finance committee. “We have done our best with this budget at the 2.3 percent without taking allowable exceptions.”

See if your family qualifies for free food
2016-17 federal guidelines announced for the free and reduced meal program
Local educator said percentage of program-eligible students generally decreases as students get older
Centre Daily Times BY BRITNEY MILAZZO July 6, 2016
New guidelines show which local students will be eligible for free or reduced lunches.
The state Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday the federal income eligibility guidelines for the 2016-17 school year.  A report from PDE said school districts and other institutions use federal guidelines to determine eligibility for the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Special Milk Program for Children, the Child and Adult Care Food Program and the Summer Food Service Program.  Eligibility is tabulated using poverty guidelines. Families with income falling below 130 percent of the poverty guideline are eligible for free lunches, and families with income falling below 185 percent of the poverty guideline are eligible for reduced lunches. For example, a family of five making less than $36,972 annually would be eligible for a free lunch and the same family making more than that but less than $52,614 would qualify for a reduced lunch.

Our Opinion: Identify way to provide more pre-k opportunity in Pennsylvania
Times Leader Editorial JULY 2ND, 2016 - 8:00 PM
Let’s agree the preschool argument is settled. Ample evidence exists that high-quality, pre-kindergarten education has real, lasting benefits for students and society.  About 90 percent of a child’s brain is developed by age 5. Children who enter kindergarten without the proper social and academic skills can quickly fall behind, grow discouraged and become life-long failures.  High quality pre-k has been shown to reduce special education placement, increase graduation rates, increase the odds a child will go to college, reduce anti-social behavior and reduce the likelihood a child will end up in the criminal justice system or become a substance abuser.  The problem, advocacy groups argue, is making quality programs accessible to lower-income parents. The campaign known as “Pre-K for PA” cites an average annual cost of about $8,800 for participation in a private, high-quality, pre-k program. If parents with one child are living at the federal poverty level of $20,090, that’s nearly half their income.  These arguments were reiterated when representatives from different groups recently pushed for more state funding of pre-k programs during a meeting at the Times Leader. The prognosis is bleak, they told us.

“Everyone wants to go to heaven. But no one wants to die”
Editorial | Do we really need another study of school consolidation?
Tribune Democrat Editorial Jul 3, 2016
The state House of Representatives has commissioned a new study to determine whether school mergers would save money.  That’s the equivalent of research into whether smoking can have detrimental effects on your health, and whether eating fatty foods without exercising can lead to weight gain.  We all recognize that school mergers would save money – through reduced administrative costs, streamlined functions such as payroll and purchasing, having fewer buildings needing heat, lights, air conditioning, water and sewer.  The question without an answer is: How do you convince school district officials, parents and taxpayers that this needs to happen?  Another legislative study a decade ago identified 88 school districts – some in our region – that would benefit from merging or consolidating.  That study resulted in no mergers, no breaks for overburdened taxpayers.  “It’s frustrating,” said state Sen. John Wozniak, D-Westmont. “Everyone wants to go to heaven. But no one wants to die.”  Pennsylvania has been holding steady at 500 school districts – all with their own superintendents and business offices and sports, music, theater and academic programs.

“The bottom line: The activists are worried that if she becomes president, she won’t depart much from President Obama’s education reform policies, which critics say have contributed to the privatization of public education.”
Why Hillary Clinton got booed (briefly) at the National Education Association convention
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss July 5 at 4:33 PM 
Hillary Clinton addressed the National Education Association — the country’s largest labor union — on July 5, and while there was plenty of applause, there were some boos as well.  Why did teachers from the association boo the Democratic Party’s presumptive presidential nominee? And for that matter, why are education activists upset with the draft version of the Clinton-led education plank of the Democratic Party’s 2016 platform? 

Teachers union cheers Clinton for stance on standardized testing and pay, but boos her embrace of charters
Washington Post By Emma Brown July 5 at 2:43 PM 
Hillary Clinton delivered plenty of applause lines Tuesday in a speech to the nation’s largest teachers union at a gathering in Washington, calling for less standardized testing, more support for vulnerable children and more respect and pay for public school educators.  “I want to say, right at the outset, that I’m with you,” Clinton said to loud cheers from thousands of delegates to the National Education Association’s annual meeting. “If I am fortunate enough to be elected president, educators will have a partner in the White House, and you’ll always have a seat at the table.”  But Clinton also signaled her willingness to challenge union orthodoxy on the lightning rod issue of charter schools, saying that there are some successful charter schools whose approaches should be studied and replicated.  “When schools get it right, whether they’re traditional public schools or public charter schools, let’s figure out what’s working and share it with schools across America,” she said to audible boos from the audience. “Rather than starting from ideology, let’s start from what’s best for our kids.”

Hillary Clinton to NEA: If I Win, Educators Will Have a Partner in the White House
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on July 5, 2016 12:27 PM
By Alyson Klein and Stephen Sawchuk
Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, told the National Education Association Tuesday that, if elected, she would be educators' "partner in the White House," invest in teacher training and wraparound services, and have their back when "union busting governors" or "hostile legislatures" try to take away their collective bargaining rights.  Clinton thanked the 3 million-member NEA, which is holding its annual convention here, for sticking by her in the surprisingly fierce primary against Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.  She promised that she would return the favor by making sure that teachers—some of whom were blindsided by Obama administration K-12 initiatives, especially around tying teacher evaluations to test scores—will always be part of the policymaking process.  "If I am fortunate enough to be elected president, educators will have a partner in the White House, and you'll always have a seat at the table," she said. "I have this old-fashioned idea that when we are making decisions about education, we actually should listen to our educators."

“At some charter schools, however, the distinction between for-profit and nonprofit status is murky. A school may be nonprofit, but it can hire a for-profit management company, which can be run by the same people as the nonprofit.”
Clinton's charter school comments prompt boos at teachers union event
Hillary Clinton on Tuesday said traditional public schools and charter schools should share ideas — a remark met with boos by delegates from the National Education Association’s representative assembly.  To the thousands of teachers gathered at the labor union’s annual conference, Clinton said “when schools get it right, whether they are traditional public schools or public charter schools, let’s figure out what’s working ... and share it with schools across America.”  Some teachers in the audience booed.  Clinton continued to preach cooperation.
“We can do that,” she said. “We’ve got no time for all of these education wars.”
The presidential hopeful won back the crowd by making a distinction between charter schools in general, and those schools run by for-profit companies. Clinton said people on the outside are pushing “for-profit charter schools on our kids.”  “We will never stand for that. That is not acceptable,” Clinton said to cheers.

Here Are the Parts of the Draft ESSA Rules That Worry Members of Congress the Most
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on July 5, 2016 9:56 AM
If you've been looking for reactions to the draft accountability rules for the Every Student Succeeds Act from Capitol Hill, now you've got a lot of it.   Both the House and Senate education committees have had a chance to share their thoughts publicly about the proposed regulations. And in their hearings, lawmakers have had a chance to directly quiz Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. about the draft rules. Based on those hearings, it's become relatively clear what their biggest concerns are.   Before we get to those, however, it's important to keep in mind that top Democrats have praised King generally for the U.S. Department of Education's approach. For example, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. and the Senate committee's ranking member, said in a statement she was "very glad to see strong regulations coming out that make sure the law operates as it was intended and truly accomplishes the clear accountability goals we laid out." And Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va. and the House committee's ranking member, said states need clear and robust regulatory guidance from the department regardless of any election-related political uncertainty. 
Now, in no particular order, here are elements of the draft rule that drew considerable and/or noteworthy concerns from federal lawmakers:

“For evidence of this, one need look only to the past. If the educational system had broken at some point, a look backward would reveal an end to progress—a point at which the system stopped working. Yet that isn’t at all the picture that emerges. Instead, one can see that across many generations, the schools have slowly and steadily improved.”
America's Not-So-Broken Education System
Do U.S. schools really need to be disrupted?
The Atlantic by JACK SCHNEIDER   JUN 22, 2016
Everything in American education is broken. Or so say the policy elites, from the online learning pioneer Sal Khan to the journalist-turned-reformer Campbell Brown. As leaders of the XQ project succinctly put it, we need to “scrap the blueprint and revolutionize this dangerously broken system.”  This, they explain, is the sad truth. The educational system simply stopped working. It aged, declined, and broke. And now the nation has a mess on its hands. But there’s good news, too. As Michelle Rhee’s group, StudentsFirst, declares: Americans can “work together to fix this broken system.” All it takes is the courage to rip it apart.  This is how the argument goes, again and again. The system used to work, but now it doesn’t. And though nobody inside schools seems to care, innovators outside the establishment have developed some simple solutions. The system can be rebuilt, reformers argue. But first it must be torn down.

Testing Resistance & Reform News: June 29 - July 5, 2016
FairTest Submitted by fairtest on July 5, 2016 - 1:15pm 
Though school is out for the summer and the long, holiday weekend slowed coverage, there's still plenty of assessment reform news. Please add your voice at the Save Our Schools rally, march and conference in Washington DC at the end of this week

Appointment of Voting Delegates for the October 15th PSBA Delegate Assembly Meeting
PSBA Website June 27, 2016
The governing body boards of all member school entities are entitled to appoint voting delegates to participate in the PSBA Delegate Assembly to be held on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016. It is important that school boards act soon to appoint its delegate or delegates, and to notify PSBA of the appointment.
Voting members of the Delegate Assembly will:
1.     Consider and act upon proposed changes to the PSBA Bylaws.
2.     Receive reports from the PSBA president, executive director and treasurer.
3.     Receive the results of the election for officers and at-large representatives. (Voting upon candidates by school boards and electronic submission of each board’s votes will occur during the month of September 2016.)
4.     Consider proposals recommended by the PSBA Platform Committee and adopt the legislative platform for the coming year.
5.     Conduct other Association business as required or permitted in the Bylaws, policies or a duly adopted order of business.
The 2016 Delegate Assembly will meet on Saturday, Oct. 15, at the conclusion of the regularly scheduled events of the main PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference.

Nominations now open for PSBA Allwein Awards (deadline July 16)
The Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award was established in 2011 by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and may be presented annually to the individual school director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that are consistent with the positions in PSBA’s Legislative Platform. The 2016 Allwein Award nominations will be accepted starting today and all applications are due by July 16, 2016. The nomination form can be downloaded from the website.

2016 PA Educational Leadership Summit July 24-26 State College
Summit Sponsors: PA Principals Association - PA Association of School Administrators - PA Association of Middle Level Educators - PA Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development 
The 2016 Educational Leadership Summit, co-sponsored by four leading Pennsylvania education associations, provides an excellent opportunity for school district administrative teams and instructional leaders to learn, share and plan together at a quality venue in "Happy Valley." 
Featuring Grant Lichtman, author of EdJourney: A Roadmap to the Future of Education, Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera (invited), and Dana Lightman, author of POWER Optimism: Enjoy the Life You Have... Create the Success You Want, keynote speakers, high quality breakout sessions, table talks on hot topics and district team planning and job alike sessions provides practical ideas that can be immediately reviewed and discussed at the summit before returning back to your district.   Register and pay by April 30, 2016 for the discounted "early bird" registration rate:

PA Supreme Court sets Sept. 13 argument date for fair education funding lawsuit in Philly
Thorough and Efficient Blog JUNE 16, 2016 BARBGRIMALDI LEAVE A COMMENT

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